Japan’s Kanto Region to Track Surplus Solar Energy with Power Ledger

Japan’s Kanto Region to Track Surplus Solar Energy with Power Ledger

Australian energy tech firm Power Ledger to run blockchain-enabled energy trading trial in Japan’s Kanto region by December 2019.

Australian tech firm Power Ledger will run another blockchain-enabled energy trading trial in Japan’s Kanto region by December 2019.

In order to launch its second trial in the country, Power Ledger has teamed up with Japanese solar provider Sharing Energy and electricity retailer eRex, the company said in a news release shared with Cointelegraph on Oct. 3.

Main region of Japan’s economy

The new Power Ledger’s trial will track surplus solar energy levels and electricity trading, integrating blockchain-enabled P2P platform with household smart meter systems in the Kanto region. 

With Tokyo located in Kanto, the region is considered to be the main engine of Japan’s economy and is the second largest sub-national economy in the world after California in the United States.

Access to cheaper energy systems

The trial intends to demonstrate the benefits of distributed energy systems in countering the significant feed-in-tariff (FIT) reduction, which is scheduled for October 2019 and expected to affect over 500,000 solar energy consumers. 

The platform will reportedly allow trial participants to set prices and track energy trading in real time to demonstrate settlement of surplus solar transactions.

By trialing Power Ledger’s technology, Kanto can potentially learn how to monetize renewable energy investments and gain access to cheaper energy systems. The test with Sharing Energy and eRex is scheduled to run until December 2019.

As Cointelegraph reported in August, Power Ledger has announced the completion of a joint trial of a blockchain-based system for post-FIT surplus power in Osaka in partnership with Japanese Kansai Electric Power.

Government of Uzbekistan Triples Tax on Electricity for Crypto Miners

Government of Uzbekistan Triples Tax on Electricity for Crypto Miners

The government of the Republic of Uzbekistan has ordered a 300% increase on electricity tariffs for cryptocurrency miners.

The government of the Republic of Uzbekistan has ordered a 300% increase on electricity tariffs for cryptocurrency miners.

According to a Sept. 27 announcement, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan has decreed that cryptocurrency miners must pay three times more the existing electricity tariffs. 

The provision follows an Aug. 22, 2019 decree from President Shavkat Mirziyoyev entitled “On Accelerated Measures to Improve Energy Efficiency of Economic Sectors and the Social Sphere, Implement Energy Saving Technologies and Develop Renewable Energy Sources” and to further motivate the rational use of electrical energy by consumers.

Uzbekistan’s approach to crypto and blockchain

Last September, Mirziyoyev ordered the establishment of a state blockchain development fund called the “Digital Trust.” The fund’s primary goal is to integrate blockchain into various government projects, including healthcare, education and cultural areas. The organization is set to be responsible for international investment in the Uzbek digital economy.

Earlier the same month, a decree legalizing crypto trading — also making it tax-free — and mining in the country came into force. According to the law, foreign nationals can only trade cryptocurrencies in Uzbekistan by creating a subsidiary in the country.

The law also specifies a minimum capital requirement of roughly $710,000 to establish a crypto exchange. Furthermore, crypto traders will not fall under Uzbek stock market regulations and will be relieved of their obligation to pay taxes on trading revenues.

Mining regulation in other countries

In June, the Iranian government announced that they would cut power to crypto mining operations until new energy prices were approved. Iran’s Ministry of Energy reportedly revealed that the country had seen a 7% spike of electricity consumption over a monthly period ending on June 21, 2019. The Ministry believes that the surge was caused by the growing number of crypto mining activities in the country.

China’s Bitcoin mining scene is a major player in the global hash rate, with China-based mining pools reportedly mining potentially 70% of all the coins created yearly. However, in April, the Chinese government said that it was considering the elimination of crypto mining in the country.

Kyrgyzstan Cuts Off Power to 45 Crypto Miners for Overconsumption

Kyrgyzstan Cuts Off Power to 45 Crypto Miners for Overconsumption

The move came after 45 crypto mining firms used more power than three regions combined.

Kyrgyzstan has cut off power to 45 crypto mining firms as they consumed more energy than three local regions combined.

Senior energy official Aitmamat Nazarov has warned cryptocurrency mining is not defined under Kyrgyzstan law, local news agency AKIpress reported on Sept. 20.

136 MW of electricity used

According to Nazarov, 45 crypto miners consumed 136 megawatts of electricity, which is more than the amount consumed by three Kyrgyzstan regions: Issyk-Kul, Talas and Naryn.

Cheap energy pricing

Kyrgyzstan has become a popular site for global cryptocurrency mining firms due to cheap energy prices.

In August, the country’s Ministry of Economy submitted a draft law in order to introduce cryptocurrency mining taxation — a move designed to boost revenues.

Cryptocurrencies were banned in Kyrgyzstan in July 2014 after the national bank warned it is illegal to use Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Iran, which has also been cutting off electricity to local mining farms, has proposed registering crypto miners on an annual basis in a move to regulate the industry.

Thai Oil and Gas Firm Develops Blockchain-Based Renewables Platform

Thai Oil and Gas Firm Develops Blockchain-Based Renewables Platform

Thailand-based energy company PTT and blockchain energy nonprofit Energy Web Foundation are jointly building a blockchain-based renewables platform.

Thai state-owned oil and gas company PTT and blockchain energy nonprofit Energy Web Foundation (EWF) are jointly building a blockchain-based renewables platform.

According to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Sept. 11, the parties are developing a regional solution based on the Energy Web Chain. The new product will also be compliant with the International Renewable Energy Certificate (I-REC) Standard, which certifies renewable energy sources.

I-REC certificate demand

Energy producers can apply for I-REC tracking certificates from an issuer appointed by a government or trade organization. Once the tickets are submitted to a central registry, energy suppliers and purchasers can prove the renewable origin of energy by redeeming the certificates. 

Last year, Thailand reportedly produced about 28 million megawatt hours (MWh) of clean electricity, while just 0.16 million I-REC MWhs were issued. EWF CEO Jesse Morris said that the blockchain-based platform will help to connect supply and demand for the certificates.

Worawat Pitayasiri, the senior executive vice president of innovation and digital at PTT, said that the platform will benefit corporate renewable buyers and energy developers, adding:

“It will better match demand with available supply, help corporate buyers to achieve their sustainability goals more easily, create a supplemental revenue stream for already-operating renewable energy assets, and unlock new investment in additional renewable energy throughout the region.”

Peer-to-peer energy platforms gain traction

Just recently, Australian blockchain energy startup Power Ledger launched its first trial of peer-to-peer energy trading technology in rural areas to help outlying commercial settlements and farms improve the efficiency of their power grid and reduce associated costs.

The United States Department of Energy awarded a $1.05 million grant in August to organizations working to commercialize a blockchain-based energy transaction platform. 

At the time, Dr. Amin Khodaei, chairman of the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Denver, said:

“The growing proliferation of distributed energy resources calls for advanced management frameworks that support peer-to-peer communications while being fast, scalable and secure […] Now is the time to develop and demonstrate the technologies that can make a more sustainable and resilient future possible.”

Oil Giants Hire Blockchain Startup to Manage Water in Bakken Fields

Oil Giants Hire Blockchain Startup to Manage Water in Bakken Fields

Major oil companies including Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have enlisted Data Gumbo to manage water in North Dakota’s oilfields using blockchain.

A consortium of oil companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell looks to blockchain to manage water used in oil extraction in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields.

Oil and water

As Reuters reported on Sept. 10, the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC) Oil & Gas Blockchain Consortium has awarded a contract to blockchain startup Data Gumbo to pilot water handling technology in North Dakota’s oil fields.

Per the report, Data Gumbo will use blockchain to automate payments and deploy their GumboNet platform to manage and synchronize wastewater data.

One member of the consortium, Norway’s state-owned Equinor, expects to save up to 25% on costs related to disposal of saltwater. 

The EPA estimates that over 2 billion gallons of fluid biproducts of petroleum product are injected in the United States every day, through an estimated 180,000 active wells.

The startup

Data Gumbo focuses on using blockchain within the oil and gas industry, particularly to streamline payments and supply chain. 

In July, CEO Andrew Bruce told Bloomberg that streamlining these processes could save the industry 30% of expenses. The more recent Reuters report paraphrases Bruce as saying that the technology could save $3.7 billion annually for the oil and gas water business.

In August, Texas-based Antelope Water Management announced that the company would be using Data Gumbo’s platform in its own sustainability-focused water services for oil and gas extractions.

The consortium

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of March, the Oil and Gas Blockchain Consortium formed at the time, with the announced aim of exploring proofs of concept for blockchain technology within the industry. The consortium advertised itself as the first of its kind in U.S. oil production.

Founding members included U.S.-based Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Pioneer Natural Resources, Hess, Norwegian Equinor, and Spanish Repsol. Since then, others including Royal Dutch Shell have joined their ranks.

Power Ledger Goes to Rural Australia to Trade Surplus Energy via DLT

Power Ledger Goes to Rural Australia to Trade Surplus Energy via DLT

Blockchain energy startup Power Ledger to launch first trial of P2P tech in rural areas of Western Australia to trade surplus energy on the blockchain.

Australian blockchain energy startup Power Ledger has launched its first trial of peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading technology in rural areas.

Energy monetization for outlying settlements

According to a blog post on Sept. 9, Power Ledger has launched pilots outside of a metropolitan area in Western Australia, intending to help outlying commercial settlements and farms improve the efficiency of their power grid and reduce associated costs.

Specifically, Power Ledger’s blockchain P2P platform aims to allow those sites to monetize their surplus solar energy, while existing tariffs provide no financial compensation to those who feed unused solar power back into the energy grid.

David Martin, managing director and co-founder of Power Ledger, said that the current energy system is based on large-scale power stations pushing energy to some consumers located hundreds of kilometers away, which requires an even further energy push to reach regional areas such as Wongan Hills or Moora.

Thousands of dollars potentially saved

As such, Power Ledger is launching trials of its energy trading platform at nine commercial sites in the Shire of Wongan-Ballidu and one site from the Shire of Moora, the post notes. The project is launched in partnership with local incorporated association Innovations Central Midlands and energy-related firms such as BSC Solar, Sonnen and CleanTech Energy. The platform will facilitate energy trading between members including shire offices, CRC/Visitor Centre, medical centre, sports centre, local farmers, bakeries and others.

Steve Mason, CEO of Innovations Central Midlands, noted that the platform has the potential to save thousands of dollars in electricity costs by enabling a method for not wasting energy in remote rural areas.

In mid-August, Power Ledger announced the completion of a joint trial of a blockchain-based system for surplus power after feed-in tariff in Osaka in partnership with Japanese Kansai Electric Power.

German Firm Unveils Mobile Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Containers

German Firm Unveils Mobile Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Containers

Bitcoin mining infrastructure firm Northern Bitcoin AG has announced the completion of tests for its new air-cooled mining container, which houses 144 ASIC miners.

Bitcoin (BTC) mining infrastructure firm Northern Bitcoin AG has announced the completion of tests for its new air-cooled mining container, which houses 144 ASIC miners.

A press release published on Sept. 9 outlined that the highly mobile container solution has been designed as a piece of flexible and efficient infrastructure that will enable the firm to establish mining pools in countries with year-round cool locations. 

Setting up shop anywhere energy is cheap, sustainable 

Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Northern AG develops and operates Bitcoin-focused mining hardware that uses renewable energy sources and aims to attain optimal efficiency and sustainability.

The press release notes that Northern AG has developed and operated a mining pool with 21 water-cooled 41-foot containers — housing 210 ASIC miners each — in Norway for over a year. 

The new water-cooled container has reportedly been developed with partners in Germany and will allow the firm to extend its operations, flexibly and at short notice, to new locations across Scandinavia. 

Its 20-foot design — with a capacity to house 144 ASIC miners — has a significantly higher miner density than the earlier water-cooled containers. The firm says it is focused on deploying its mobile mining solutions in permanently cool locations where sustainable energy sources such as hydropower are cheap and abundant. 

As the press release notes, efficient temperature control is critical for compute-intensive Bitcoin mining operations, during which the hardware required typically generates significant heat.

Bitcoin mining getting more energy-efficient

As recently reported, fresh data from aggregator Statista has indicated that Bitcoin (BTC) energy consumption is becoming rapidly more efficient, even as the global network’s hash rate continues to hit record highs.

Energy consumption as of July 2019 was 69.79 terawatt hours per year. In July 2018, the figure was 71.12 terawatts, while hash rate was almost 60% lower than at present. 

A study in June found that three-quarters of Bitcoin mining activity is powered by renewable energy sources. 

Mining hardware manufacturers such as Bitmain are similarly seeking to develop new solutions with greater processing capabilities and lower energy demands.

Report: Shell and Sinochem Discuss Blockchain Platform for Crude Oil

Report: Shell and Sinochem Discuss Blockchain Platform for Crude Oil

A Sinochem subsidiary is reportedly in negotiations with Shell and Macquarie regarding the development of a blockchain platform for the oil sector.

A subsidiary of Chinese oil and chemical giant Sinochem Group is reportedly in discussions regarding a blockchain platform with Royal Dutch Shell and Australian financial services firm Macquarie Group.

As Reuters reported on Sept. 5, sources familiar with the matter said that Sinochem Energy Technology entered into negotiations with the two companies to examine the development of a blockchain platform for crude oil in July.

$14 million blockchain platform

The planned blockchain-based platform is reportedly dubbed Gateway, with a value of 100 million yuan (~$14 million). Sources also revealed that Shell and Macquarie decided to invest in Sinochem Energy Technology itself, further stating:

“Sinochem group has set an internal deadline for the technology firm to bring in strategic investors by the end of September, or the latest October, because the firm is in deep loss.”

Gateway is reportedly going to deploy blockchain technology to reduce trade and settlement inefficiencies, improve transparency and reduce the risk of fraud in the oil industry. 

Last month, Shell, BP and other oil firms were freed from a United States-based fraud lawsuit due to a jurisdiction issue. In the lawsuit, a group of oil futures and derivatives traders alleged that the firms engaged in manipulating foreign markets for Brent crude oil. 

Blockchain’s benefits for the energy sector

In July, Shell invested in blockchain-based energy startup LO3, which developed a platform for tracking energy with blockchain technology. Shell is planning to convert its investment in LO3’s native XRG tokens, which will be used to incentivize the platform and will be required to access the distributed energy grid.

That same month, Andrew Bruce, CEO of American blockchain startup Data Gumbo, argued that oil industry players can save at least 30% by implementing blockchain applications such as blockchain-based contract execution instead of traditional paper contracts.

Jaguar Uses Iota in Proof-of-Concept Demo for Tracing Car Energy

Jaguar Uses Iota in Proof-of-Concept Demo for Tracing Car Energy

In a proof of concept demonstration, a Jaguar I-Pace uses Iota’s DLT to track and display the car’s energy source and usage to the public.

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) company Iota partners with auto manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover for a proof-of-concept (PoC) demonstration for tracing car energy with DLT.

Tracking energy source and usage

Iota announced the news in an official blog post on Aug. 30. Per the announcement, Iota is partnering with Jaguar Land Rover and French energy R&D center Engie Lab Crigen for the demonstration. The demonstration aims to show the public both the source and use of a Jaguar I-Pace’s energy at the Trondheim Powerhouse, the building whose inauguration forms the background for the proof-of-concept.

Russell Vickers, the manager of Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle-as-a-service engineering group, commented on what he believe this PoC suggests for the future of energy-conscious smart cities. He remarked:

“This agile initiative demonstrates vividly how cities can transform both infrastructure and transportation into a sustainable and mutually beneficial ecosystem. We are excited to let the public see how energy-positive buildings and vehicles such as the I-Pace in this demonstration can create positive sustainability innovation in line with Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero strategy.”

The Jaguar I-Pace’s Iota smart wallet

According to the report, the Jaguar I-Pace contains an Iota-backed smart wallet that could be used for energy-charging — a so-dubbed “Green Charging” feature — that is similarly traced by Iota’s DLT. This would provide I-Pace owners with the ability to charge their cars exclusively with renewable energy.

Additionally, the I-Pace’s smart wallet currently lets users earn IOTA by letting the car automatically report data relevant to road conditions, including information on potholes, weather and traffic, per the announcement. This currency can then be used for paying services such as tolls, parking and charging. 

Iota’s Trinity wallet

At the beginning of June, the Iota Foundation unveiled a new smart wallet for its Iota tokens. This wallet, called the Trinity wallet, reportedly included a biometric authentication and Keepass-compliant security, among other features.

US SEC Reaches $10 Million Settlement With Digital Assets Issuers

US SEC Reaches $10 Million Settlement With Digital Assets Issuers

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission reaches $10 million settlement with a Dallas-based digital assets company and its founders.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a primary governmental regulator, has settled charges with digital assets company Bitqyck Inc. and its founders.

Smart contracts and crypto mining?

The SEC announced the development in a press release on Aug. 29. According to the announcement, Bruce Bise and Sam Mendez­ are the founders of Bitqyck — a company that provided security offerings for digital assets Bitqy and BitqyM in Dallas, Texas. The company claimed that Bitqy tokens gave investors fractional shares of company stock via a smart contract. Additionally, Bitqyck said that BitqyM tokens would give holders interest in a cryptocurrency mining facility running on sub-market-rate electricity, per the press release.

The SEC alleged in its complaint that both of these claims were false. The SEC alleged that the founders fraudulently misrepresented a platform called QyckDeals, which was a deals platform for Bitqy tokens. Lastly, the SEC charged the company with illegally operating an unregistered, national security exchange for Bitqy entitled TradeBQ.

Losses and settlement fees

The SEC reports that Bitqyck raised over $13 million in fundraisers for its unregistered securities. Further, the release reads that investors received $4.5 million via referrals, but still lost over two-thirds of their investments as a whole.

According to the announcement, Bitqyck and its founders have settled with the regulator. As per the settlement agreement, Bitqyck will pay $8,375,617, and Bise and Mendez will pay respective fines of $890,254 and $850,022.

SEC Chair won’t make exceptions for digital assets

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently told Bloomberg that he doesn’t plan to change securities laws to accommodate digital assets. He stated:

“I think a lot of people got excited that somehow we would change the rules to accommodate the technology and they invested their time and effort thinking that would happen […] I have been pretty clear from the start, that ain’t happening.’’

VMWare CEO Gelsinger Condemns Bitcoin as Bad Design, Bad for Humanity

VMWare CEO Gelsinger Condemns Bitcoin as Bad Design, Bad for Humanity

VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger says he believes Bitcoin is bad for humanity, citing its environmental impact and purported illicit use.

Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of major cloud computing and virtual machine company VMWare, has condemned Bitcoin (BTC) as being “bad for humanity.”

Fortune spoke to Gelsinger about Bitcoin prior to VMWare’s annual conference in San Francisco on Aug. 26. According to Gelsinger, one issue with Bitcoin is its purportedly high energy consumption, which contributes to climate change. Gelsinger said:

“It takes the energy of a home, half-a-home a day, to do a single entry into a Bitcoin ledger […] It’s climate intolerant, it is so extreme, it is bad design.”

Gelsinger also claimed that people primarily use Bitcoin (BTC) for illicit activities, and that overall, it is “bad for humanity.” Gelsinger reportedly remains neutral on blockchain technology itself, instead viewing Bitcoin as an unfortunate misuse of that tech.

Energy concerns around Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s electricity demands have been a concern for energy-conscious persons in the past. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, data consultant and blockchain specialist Alex De Vries has spoken about the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining. He said:

“We know that mining is done with coal-electricity, but also with renewable energy. In the latter case, we don’t know what we are displacing, plus renewable energy never has zero lifetime carbon footprint either. […] The more energy Bitcoin uses, the more it will impact the environment for sure […] It’s not helping us reach our climate goals.”

In a recent study this June, cryptocurrency research firm CoinShares estimated that 74.1% of Bitcoin mining is powered by renewable energy.

Echoing Trump and the U.S. Treasury Secretary 

Gelsinger’s remarks about Bitcoin being used for crime echo those made by United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in July. Mnuchin said he believes that “cryptocurrencies have been dominated by illicit activities and speculation” and further stated:

“Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity, like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, randomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking […] This is indeed a national security issue.”

As is his habit, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize cryptocurrencies earlier this year by saying he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies. However, the industry responded positively to the tweet, and Bitcoin’s price was largely unaffected.

Blockchain Energy Startup Power Ledger Extends P2P Power Trading Trial

Blockchain Energy Startup Power Ledger Extends P2P Power Trading Trial

Energy-focused blockchain startup Power Ledger has extended its peer-to-peer energy trading trial to the next phase in the Australian city of Fremantle.

Energy-focused blockchain startup Power Ledger has extended its peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading trial into its next phase in the Australian city of Fremantle.

In a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Aug. 21, Power Ledger revealed the continuation of its p2p solar power trading trial aimed at tracking rooftop solar energy traded between households in Fremantle. The households participating in the project can set their own energy prices in the market.

‘50,000 transactions per month’

The testing — which is a collaborative effort between Power Ledger, Curtin University, energy generating company Synergy, electricity network operator Western Power and energy services platform energyOS — was originally due for completion in June 2019. However, it will now extend until December of this year.

Power Ledger initially started the trial last November, ostensibly processing nearly 50,000 transactions on its blockchain-enabled platform per month since then. The release explains:

“Western Power’s smart meter data was fed into Power Ledger’s blockchain trading platform and then exported to Synergy’s billing system, to ensure a secure and accurate recording of the energy trading.” 

Management of power use by consumers

According to Power Ledger executive chairman Jemma Green, p2p trading is able to provide customers connected to the electricity grid with a choice to manage their power use. Commenting on the project, Krystal Skinner, manager of new energy at Synergy, said:

“The first phase gave us insights into the profile of customers that could benefit from peer-to- peer trading, along with highlighting some challenges for developing the right pricing model. The second phase will incorporate changes based on these insights to determine product potential.”

This month, Power Ledger and Japanese Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) completed a joint trial of a blockchain-based system for post-FIT (feed-in tariff) surplus power in Osaka. The system purportedly enabled KEPCO to conduct a p2p transaction of surplus power autonomously and automatically, which included settlements with digital currency.

The Congressional Research Service released a report earlier in August that examined, among other things, potential advantages and disadvantages of pursuing blockchain-based solutions in the energy sector.  In the survey, 77% of respondents apparently said that the energy sector lacks appropriate standards for implementing blockchain solutions.

Japan to Solarize Its Burgeoning Digital Economy, Expert Take

Japan to Solarize Its Burgeoning Digital Economy, Expert Take

A look at green policy and crypto energy consumption in Japan.

Society is now witnessing the implementation of digital currencies, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology worldwide. These new digital technologies necessitate very high consumption of electric energy, which is currently produced with coal and fossil fuels that have adverse environmental effects. A global shift toward green energy will require the removal of the technological/infrastructural, financial and regulatory/tax-policy barriers. In this series, we evaluate the tax, digital technology and solar policies (including a space solar power satellite) of the top carbon dioxide-emitting countries.

In 2009, Japan — the Land of the Rising Sun — undertook  important initiatives that set the tone for how it intended to solarize the world’s third-largest digital economy. Japan passed its Basic Space Law, which established a space power satellite (SPS) — the concept of collecting solar power in outer space and distributing it to Earth via satellites — as a national priority.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan sets the strategic energy plan for the world’s fourth-largest energy consumer and the sixth-largest emitter of CO2 — 90% of which is tied to hydrocarbon energy. METI believes that the impact of blockchain — which consumes large amounts of electricity — is huge and that its importance is similar to the emergence of the internet.

According to a World Economic Forum survey, global GDP stored on blockchain technology is expected to reach 10% by 2027. Therefore, in June 2018, Japan introduced a sandbox regime to accelerate the introduction of new business models and innovative technologies such as blockchain, AI and the Internet of Things.

The world’s largest technology investment fund — the $100 billion Softbank Vision Fund, which announced the launch of a second fund — and Japanese megabanks have been investing in and funding blockchain startups concerning applications in telecommunications, swift -payment system, solar energy, identity, health care, messaging, transportation, data security and fintech industries, both in Japan and globally

Related: Is US Environmental Tax Policy Hindering Solar Power to Fuel Digital Technologies?

Solar photovoltaic technology and its applications in solar energy in Japan 

Japan’s Ministry of Technology and Industry (MITI) views solar photovoltaic power as an essential part of its digital economic transformation. Japanese science fiction author Haruki Murakami concurs “Japan, as an economic power, should find another source of power besides atomic energy. It may cause a temporary economic dip, but we will be respected as a country that does not use nuclear power.”

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology — which converts light into electrical current — was born in the United States at Bell Labs when engineer Daryl Chapin, chemist Calvin Fuller and physicist Gerald Pearson worked together to develop the first silicon solar photovoltaic cell in 1954. The New York Times wrote that the silicon solar cell “may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams — the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” 

First launched in 1974 by MITI, with METI joining in 2001, the Sunshine Project was a long-term comprehensive plan for the research and development of new solar energy technologies to resolve Japan’s energy and climate change problems. The program was heavily funded by the government because PV technology emits no CO2 while also being highly reliable and modular, and with lower construction and operational costs.

Starting in the 1980s, Japanese manufacturers began incorporating solar PV cells into electronic applications in various areas. In the late 1990s, Japanese government programs began promoting solar houses. In 2009, Tsutomu Miyasaka and his colleagues in Japan reported on perovskite compounds being light absorbers for solar energy applications, which outperform the efficiency of more established PV technologies and can be printed or woven into fabric. As a result, Japan emerged as the world’s third-largest solar energy power producer, with 45% of PV cells in the world being manufactured in Japan.

With the rise of Bitcoin and in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, the government encouraged the proliferation of decentralized solar energy by encouraging the production of more energy-efficient buildings, cars that combine solar panels with some form of energy storage as well as other devices. This compelled the solar energy sector to begin using blockchain technology. Professor Umit Cali of the University of North Carolina provided an exclusive comment, saying:

“In the solar energy sector, decentralized blockchain technology is used in person-to-person (P2P) energy trading, labeling, energy provenance and certification, smart metering and billing, electric vehicle charging and payments, and wholesale power trading and settlements.” 

Reports published by Fitch Solutions Macro Research and Globadata conclude that over the next decade, decentralized solar technology may replace PV solar farms as the main growth-driver in Japan. Already, a blockchain-enabled solar energy-trading pilot project is set to link 100 solar rooftops of smart, zero-energy homes in the country, while another pilot project will administer an energy-trading marketplace using blockchain to connect a number of Japanese power production facilities with homes, offices, factories, batteries and electric vehicles. 

Toyota Motor Corp. — which began testing high-efficiency solar cells for electric cars — has joined forces with the University of Tokyo and online renewable energy retailer Trende to test peer-to-peer vehicle-to-grid electricity trading using blockchain technology, which allows for electric vehicles to communicate with the power grid to buy and sell electricity to smooth out peak and low demand times. 

Japan’s Marubeni Corp. has recently backed a blockchain-based power-purchasing platform called WePower that makes it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to buy power from solar project developers, offering standardized, digital power purchase agreements to help underwrite new projects.

Japan is a predominantly mountainous land with varied weather conditions, and the area that a PV solar farm occupies is an important consideration, as it determines the yield. Accordingly, Japan has been creative in developing new PV solar energy generation stations at home and abroad — in seas, lakes, deserts and space.

Japan built the world’s first and largest floating solar plants. Its lakes and reservoirs are now home to 73 of the world’s 100-largest floating solar plants, which is up to 16% more efficient than land-based solar systems.

In cooperation with the National University of Mongolia, Japan is also participating in the project “Energy from the Desert,” with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) providing financial support covering up to half of the initial investment costs. Marubeni Corp. built the world’s largest PV farm, the Noor Abu Dhabi photovoltaic power project, in the Sweihan Desert of the United Arab Emirates, which recently began producing solar energy at $0.024 per kilowatt hour.

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) began its SPS program in 2009, with the goal to set up a one gigawatt solar farm in space that can transmit energy back to Earth by 2030. In 2015, Japan came closer to harvesting solar energy from space when it transmitted condensed solar power converted to microwaves to a receiving antenna, which converted only 5%-10% of the power required to power three PCs. 

For space solar power generation to become commercially viable, 50% of the solar power generated in space needs to be transmitted to Earth. JAXA is also designing kite-like orbiters that will travel in low-earth orbit above the equator, with a transmitting antenna on the Earthward face and solar collectors on spaceward face in order to transmit solar energy to Earth. In 2010, JAXA has already successfully launched Ikaros, a solar space kite, that sailed through deep space and was propelled by solar energy. Small satellites are ideal candidates for this type of solar propulsion.

Environmental, regulatory and tax policy in Japan 

Japan has inadequate energy resources and imports 87.4% of its hydrocarbon energy. It is the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas and third-largest importer of oil and coal.

Japan has lower levels of subsidies for fossil fuel consumption when compared to other G-7 countries, but higher subsidies for oil and gas exploration and coal production. Because efforts to compensate for the drop in nuclear power generation after the Fukushima nuclear crisis — which was triggered by the 9.1 Tohoku tsunami in Japan and which forced the shutdown of Japan’s entire fleet of nuclear 48 reactors, effectively terminating the plan to supply half the country’s electricity with nuclear power — resulted in far more support for fossil fuels and increased CO2 emissions compared to renewable energy. 

Japan provides billions in taxpayer dollars for building highly polluting coal plants in Japan as well as overseas. Japan’s largest banks — MUFG and SMBC Group — along with other banks, have reportedly continued to finance fossil fuels with $1.9 trillion since the adoption of the Paris climate agreement. Therefore, Japan is the second-worst performer when it comes to reforming fossil fuel subsidies, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

In October 2012, Japan implemented a carbon tax of 289 Japanese yen (about $3) per ton of CO2 equivalent. The government plans to use the revenues of $2 billion generated from this carbon tax to finance clean energy and energy-saving projects. Hydrocarbon air pollution is a drag for renewable energy. Dust and other sky-darkening air pollutants slash solar energy production by an estimated 11.5% to 13%. The haze blocks sunlight from reaching the solar panels, and if the particles land on a panel’s flat surface, they cut down on the area exposed to the sun.

Japan also introduced a feed-in tariff (FIT) system in 2012 to lower solar power generation costs, which are double that of Europe  thereby shifting the price of solar energy on the public to the tune of 2.4 trillion yen (roughly $22 billion) in the 2019 fiscal year alone, with a cumulative total of about 10 trillion yen (nearly $100 billion) since its introduction in July 2012. The government’s steady lowering of the FIT purchase price, which stands at 14 yen ($0.13) per kilowatt hour in 2019, has brought a drastic drop in profits for solar energy companies, triggering a wave of bankruptcies, which have reportedly risen year-on-year for five consecutive years since 2013.

Conclusion

Globally, subsidies and financing for fossil fuels continue to remain stubbornly high. According to reports, 2018 actually saw an increase in money going into new upstream oil and gas projects, while investment in renewable power of all kinds dipped 2%. The World Bank still funds the fossil fuel industry at least three times greater than renewable energy. 

This is despite G-20 finance ministers’ commitment to working together in redirecting public investments to renewable energies through fiscal policy and the use of public finance. Despite the International Renewable Energy Agency reporting that the cost of solar electricity has tumbled 80% in recent years and with three-quarters of coal production now more expensive than solar energy, the fossil fuel industry still receives benefits from governments.

In the latest G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan reiterated its dedication to the Paris climate agreement and to phasing out fossil fuel financing and subsidies in order to tackle climate change. Enhancing zero-carbon energy is an urgent task for the Japanese government, which is aiming to derive 44% of power from renewable (7% from solar energy) and nuclear power by 2030 to fuel its burgeoning digital economy. Fossil fuel subsidies significantly reduce the use of renewables, according to an OECD report

According to scientific reports, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, giant landslides and tsunamis become more frequent as global warming changes the Earth’s crust, swells sea levels, and triggers a repetitive cycle of severe natural disasters that cause extensive environmental and economic damage (e.g., it cost $315 billion to $728 billion to clean up the Fukushima nuclear reactor site alone). 

On Aug. 12, Australian energy technology company Power Ledger and Japanese Kansai Electric Power Co. announced they completed a joint trial of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer trading system for post-feed-in tariff surplus solar power in Osaka. Their announcement came on the heels of a report that highlights multiple ways blockchain technology could disrupt the peer-to-peer solar energy trading sector. According to the report:

“Blockchain technology could alter the manner in which electricity customers and producers interact. Traditionally electric utilities are vertically integrated. Blockchain could disrupt this convention by unbundling energy services along a distributed energy system. For instance, a customer could directly purchase excess electricity produced from their neighbor’s solar panels instead of purchasing electricity from the utility.” 

Japan intends to replace FIT’s fixed price system with a competitive bidding/blockchain-based peer-to-peer trading system for post-feed-in tariff surplus solar power system as soon as 2020.  This would thereby reduce inequality and provide cheaper, cleaner energy that reduces CO2 emissions and would help promote digital development in Japan as well as across the world.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA is an international tax attorney and CPA who frequently writes about tax, legal and accounting issues for Tax Notes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.

Water Management Firm to Use Data Gumbo’s Services for Efficiency

Water Management Firm to Use Data Gumbo’s Services for Efficiency

A company providing water management services to oil-and-gas companies is going to use Data Gumbo’s blockchain platform to automate its services.

Austin-based Antelope Water Management has announced that it is going to start using a blockchain platform developed by Data Gumbo. 

The announcement appeared in a press release on Aug. 15. Antelope Water Management is a company that develops sustainability-focused water services for oil and gas extractions, while Data Gumbo provides blockchain services for the oil and gas industry.  

According to the release, Data Gumbo’s blockchain network, GumboNet, will provide Antelope’s customers and vendors with data transparency, automatic contract executions and payments. Antelope CEO Dustin Brownlow remarked:

“Data Gumbo is a game changer enabling us to provide customers, vendors and regulators the best experience that smart contracts can offer. We are excited to add transparency to our operations while removing needless expenses and duplications of efforts to eliminate incorrect data and DSOs through Data Gumbo’s blockchain for all stakeholders.”

A startup with momentum

Per the press release, Data Gumbo’s blockchain-as-a-service platform is specifically designed to run smart contracts in the oil and gas sector. The press release also notes that in May, Data Gumbo received  $6 million in Series A equity funding. According to Cointelegraph’s report, Data Gumbo’s Series had $9.3 million in funding, following the investment round in May.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Data Gumbo CEO Andrew Bruce recently claimed that global oil operators could save a fortune in costs by opting into blockchain-based infrastructure. Bruce told Bloomberg that blockchain applications, such as for contract execution, could save companies 30% on their costs, as indicated by the company’s research. Moreover, their data showed that the oil and gas market was worth around $2.6 trillion by 2017.

Power Ledger and KEPCO Complete Blockchain Energy Trade Trial in Japan

Power Ledger and KEPCO Complete Blockchain Energy Trade Trial in Japan

Australian energy technology company Power Ledger and Kansai Electric Power Co. have completed a joint trial of a blockchain-based system for post-FIT surplus power in Osaka.

Australian energy technology company Power Ledger and Japanese Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) have completed a joint trial of a blockchain-based system for post-FIT (feed-in tariff) surplus power in Osaka.

P2P transaction of surplus power

In an announcement published on Aug. 12, Power Ledger revealed the test completion of a peer-to-peer system demonstrating benefits for post-FIT surplus power in the Japanese city of Osaka.

The system purportedly enabled KEPCO to conduct a p2p transaction of surplus power autonomously and automatically, which included settlements with digital currency. Fumiaki Ishida, KEPCO representative general manager, commented on the development:

“Although there are still many challenges like amendments of relevant laws for commercialization, Power Ledger’s product presents significant opportunities for prosumers to sell their excessive energy at more advantageous prices and for consumers to buy it at more affordable prices.”

Increasing blockchain adoption by energy sector

In July, Marubeni Corp., a major Japanese general trading company, revealed that it had begun backing a blockchain-based power trading platform. The platform reportedly aimed to unlock tens of billions of dollars in power generation to smaller projects in the Australian electricity market, which is running out of major power consumers that will buy large quantities over long periods of time.

The same month, energy network company E.ON filed a patent application for a blockchain-based data collector with the European Patent Office, which would allow consumers to purchase energy services within a distributed system, in particular, could make for an energy system that is more transparent, efficient and flexible for the consumer.